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Michael! Thank you so much for choosing me and leading me so far in the training program. It has changed me permanently in two good aspects.

First are changes from deep inside, in terms of career goals and inner confidence.

Second is about my outside presentation.

Let’s start with the changes from deep inside first. I still remember when you asked me, “Do you want to be a CEO of a company,” during the initial screening interview.

I thought it was absurd. How could I or how dare I even think about going that far? Never ever!

However, after the training, if you asked me today this same question, I would say, “Maybe…Yes. I think that is an intriguing idea.”

Raising my inner confidence occurred because training with Michael was one of the few times in a week that I felt good about myself.

No kidding! It is because I had been in a dark time in my career – due to the pressure to graduate from school and the uncertainty about my future career – and my confidence was decreasing. Michael helped me to realize my “sparkles” as well as “bad things” that I should improve. It is tremendously helpful to know myself better with an outsider’s expert view. Knowing what I was not good at is actually a good feeling and motivated me to improve.

The second key area I feel Michael has changed me is in my presentation. I was eager to improve my body language and start using hands while talking, though it was weird due to the conserved cultural background I had.

Michael was absolutely right that using hand movements helped me to gain more confidence and was more persuasive for others.

Also, I did consider my dress code when I had sessions with Michael. As he mentioned in his one interesting statistic, my “dressing significantly improved”, and I believe so. Not too much, but I was always thinking about it when I knew that day I would have a session with Michael, “this shirt is better for the session, because it gives me more business feeling”, or simply because “it looks better/brighter in the camera shooting”.

This is because I appreciated the significant efforts Michael and Firmsconsulting had put in me, and I do also want to offer something in return, especially the things that I can take control of, such as clothing.

Michael, I might become a CEO of a fashion or retail company in the future.

All in all, thank you Michael!

We have published the most useful client feedback. Our commitment to confidentiality prevents us from disclosing the identity of our clients and other confidential information, and we may alter details to prevent such disclosure. Some client feedback may be lightly edited for grammar, spelling or prose, though we never alter or remove any information. Clients in our consultants coaching program are forbidden from sharing sensitive client data with us.

Samantha is a 32 year-old Post Doctoral Fellow at Yale and a candidate in Season One of “The Consulting Offer.” Samantha discusses her experiences in the program. This interview was conducted at session 15 after Samantha had left the program.

Did you enjoy the program? If yes, how?

Yes and No.

Yes. I want to learn management consulting and like learning new things that challenge me. I learned things that I cannot learn from books, classes, or people around me through Michael’s knowledge sharing and candidness. These include tackle cases and communicating in multiple ways (how to speak, what to speak, and body language).

For example, I needed to do a lot of research to find out how to tackle a case, or which ways are better to tackle cases. But through the training, Michael taught me ways not only to tackle one case, but many cases of the same type. He also explained very well about why the case was designed that way, and the interviewers’ expectation.

Another example: I know I have communication problems, but didn’t know what the problems were or there extent. Michael pointed my problems one by one whenever he saw them. It’s very constructive and helpful for my improvement.

No. I felt that once I didn’t do something well for a couple of times, Michael would have the impression that I couldn’t do that thing well in the following a few sessions. It was hard to make him change his opinion because I didn’t have the opportunity after exiting the program in session 13, and that was frustrating.

Did the program meet your expectations? If yes, how?

Yes and No.

Yes. I felt very excited that Michael could teach me a lot of things and I was trying to find someone to teach me.

One thing is that I want to learn management consulting, but I don’t want to go to business school to learn . The reason for that is because I’ve stayed at school for too long and I need real work experience. However, in order to get a real job, I have to prepare myself for it. The program provided me the resources of management consulting, and Michael did personalized training for me.

The other thing is that as what I said in question 1, Michael pointed out my problems one by one whenever he saw them. This is something I always hoped someone could help me with, so I was very excited.

One more useful thing is that I step outside the agenda for the program and ask Michael about the realistic problems I faced at work. His advice was very useful. In academia, only mentors who have a very close relationship with you would give suggestions like he did, and it’s difficult to find such a good mentor.

No. I didn’t have the opportunity to finish all the sessions since I exited in session 13.

What was the most important learning’s from the program?

Communication skills I mentioned in first two questions.

Knowledge about management consulting

Do you feel the program provided an advantage for you versus your own/other preparation? If so, in what way?

Definitely. I started to practice cases with people around me after I left the program. They are self-prepared/learned. I feel my advantage over them is that I know what I need to do compared to them.

For people preparing by themselves at Yale, most of them know how to use the right framework to tackle a case, but they don’t know how to use frameworks flexibly. They also don’t know how to ask the right questions to get more information from the interviewer.

Some people can tackle the cases very well, but they don’t communicate well when they present to the interviewer. One of my friends is very smart, and can solve cases correctly in a very efficient way, but was called “a sort of framework machine” by people from McKinsey after the interview. There is a lot of information online about ways to tackle cases as well, so many that they don’t even know which to choose.

Can you recall any memorable moments?

Definitely, too many.

After I didn’t do well for two sessions, Michael critiqued me very harshly during the sessions. But later, he added two extra sessions for me, and showed me everything I needed to learn. I feel like that’s real teaching, and I appreciated that.

What would you like changed in the program?

Practice is very important to improve (I didn’t know until later). I hope we can find a reliable practice partner very easily. It was hard to practice with the partners from the program.

They were in very different time zones with me, and needed to work during day time, which left no time to practice with them.

Do you believe Michael was an effective coach?

-Yes and no.

Yes. Michael is very effective in delivering his ideas to coach people.

In another word, Michael can tell people what he wants to say in a very short, simple, and clear way. It looks easy, but takes years to learn this skill.

No. Sometimes the mentee could not digest the mentor’s teaching effectively.

Changing old bad habits or mastering new techniques takes a lot of practice. As for me, I think I didn’t have enough efficient practice. Finding a good partner to practice can be key.

Do you personally believe the sessions were tailored for your own development?

The designed contents of the sessions are less important than how Michael teaches. Through the way Michael taught each session, yes, I felt the sessions were tailored for my own development.

For example, I think I’m strong in math and I don’t need to practice simple math questions, such as those in estimation cases. But Michael found that I have problems of telling people my calculations. This made me realized that even simple questions like calculations are something I need to practice, and this was what was tailored for me.

What are your thoughts on bringing in the former McKinsey worldwide strategy practice leader to coach clients?

A great opportunity, but you need to prepare really well to talk with him.

I never discussed with Michael how to prepare. But I would first read materials about Kevin Coyne and get to know him as well as possible. I would prepare some questions about general management consulting and some general personal questions.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

It was a great training. I appreciate Michael’s knowledge sharing, time, effort, and sincere advice. He is a wonderful mentor.

Felix is a 27 year-old PhD candidate at Yale and a candidate in Season One of “The Consulting Offer.” Felix discusses her experiences in the program. This interview was conducted at the end of session 21.

What was it like practicing cases with Kevin Coyne, the ex-McKinsey worldwide strategy co-leader?

In general, I enjoyed a lot talking with Kevin during the case training session. I think we used the time effectively, and the communication was smooth. If I need to rate the experience, from a 0-10 scale with 10 being the best, I will give it an 8.5. The difference leaves me to communicate better.

More specifically, from the contents – there were lots of information plotted in the case in a clear and logical manner. Kevin made the case very compelling, like a detective story, and left it for me to discover.

He would also give lots of hints for me to pick up, or not, to try to discover by myself. Then in the end of the case, the feedback from Kevin exactly revealed the complete detective story, and showed me how I was exploring each step and what I could have done better.

He also showed me in a real engagement, the way he would go about tackling a real case. I liked the exposure to that experience. Thus, the contents were dense, deep and compelling.

From the way Kevin was leading the case, he created this “equal” atmosphere that made me feel we are a team working together to solve a real problem, and there was no pressure on me, so I had enough time to think, listen to what he said, and communicate freely with him.

On the other hand, Kevin would not let me explore anything I was not entirely sure of, and I liked this strict manner to clear my thoughts.

Do you feel pairing Kevin and Michael to train you was helpful?

Yes, I do think so. Kevin’s style and Michael’s style are different.

Michael’s standard is stricter than Kevin; therefore after getting used to Michael’s style, the discussion with Kevin is much smoother than I thought.

Additionally, because Michael and Kevin were discussing my development after each session, and gave me combined feedback, I felt this combined feedback from both sides gave me a more clear vision of places for further improvements.

What are your thoughts on the overall application strategy developed for you?

Michael’s strategy is very helpful for me to apply effectively and efficiently. I mean it in two aspects.

Firstly, the preparation period to hone case interview skills indeed gave me more confidence, and this confidence led the way into the latter networking process. The large amount of time devoted to CV and cover letter preparation also helped me to prepare a good package, which I benefited not only my application, but potentially for my future career development as well.

Secondly, the networking strategy was really bold in my opinion, but meanwhile very effective. My case is a bit difficult because I am applying to offices that have language requirements that I don’t currently have. Michael’s strategy of continuously networking with partners is very encouraging to me and seems to have a high chance of working because I do get replies from McKinsey and BCG partners, with future arrangements to talk to them directly.

No matter how this turns out, these are all experience I could never have dreamed of before I joined this program.

Did you enjoy the program?

I have enjoyed the program a lot. I have gained more knowledge of business issues, the real engagements consultants face in their everyday life and more clarity about my career goal.

Most importantly, I have gained substantial confidence from this program.

Did the program meet your expectations?

Yes, far more exceeds my expectations.

It provides technical as well philosophical views of management consulting field.

What has been your most important learning’s from the program?

Informed optimism: Meaning it helped me to realize what my sparkles are and where I need to improve today and in the future. It helped me to dare chase my dreams.

Did the program provide an advantage for you versus your own preparation?

Definitely – so much better than my own. It provided deep insights by MBB ex-partners, and laid out the “right” ways to prepare an application and thereby increase my chances of getting in.

Previously I was memorizing frameworks, and always froze in the beginning when usually I was the most nervous.

After the training, I have a better understanding of the business situation and would start building my own frameworks with the knowledge learnt, and usually, the cases become interesting and entertaining to solve.

Any memorable moments?

Michael’s feedback is mostly very right, sometimes bitterly true.

Was Michael effective?

Yes, definitely. He is so logical thinking and always to the point, every minute is used efficiently and effectively. I really enjoyed his style of teaching and frankness.

Were the sessions tailored for your development?

Yes, I think it helps me to realize far more than technical aspects, but more a philosophy and a spirit. I was developing confidence, talking with more structure and chasing some dreams that I had never thought possible.

Has ethics and values been strongly presented in your sessions?

Yes, I don’t have experience with consultants in management consulting; therefore it is very helpful to know what their values are and the ethics they hold while dealing with everyday work.

The discussions as well as numerous podcasts are unique to give me a deeper understanding of what’s going on there and how I can prepare myself when I’m reaching them.